Are we as species trained to always look for meaning, even if it’s really not there? If someone has no job their perceived lack of purpose ultimately pushes them into mental health problems. It sure as hell looks like people will always invent new jobs, with the sole purpose to keep ourselves busy.
In a thought-provoking essay, the American anthropologist David Graeber coined the term ‘Bullshit Jobs’. Mister Graeber introduced a concept where he stated that 75% of the time people are doing stuff that is not adding any value to society.
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Especially in countries where the cost of labor is cheaper than the cost of capital and where there is a government incentive to present zero unemployment, you will find extreme versions of these jobs. For example in certain parts of Asia, drive to a parking garage at a shopping mall and there will be a guy who's entire 8-hour workday is spent wearing a uniform and bowing to cars as they drive in. That's it...his entire job is bowing to cars. If he disappeared off the face of the planet tomorrow, it wouldn't affect a single thing. People would still come to the mall, cars would still manage to park, not one thing would change.
Car wavers, gangs of old ladies sweeping up nothing all day, and people acting as human signs are jobs that are mostly unnecessary or can be replaced, at least, with more efficient methods. But even in richer service economies, we should beware for meaning. As a child, I always wondered what people were doing in those big office buildings. What could they possibly be doing all day and often until late in the evening? Financial advisors, consultants, lawyers, managers; what is their purpose, what is their drive?